Seventy-five souls of Jacob’s family went to Egypt.
The previous handful of Principles have focused on the writings that comprise the Bible, how we got them, and the differences between textual families.
We have examined reasons why the Greek Septuagint (LXX) is a superior Old Testament source, yet it is used in few English Bible translations.
Chronologically, one of the first significant differences that exists between the LXX and the Hebrew Masoretic Text (MT) arises in Genesis 46:27. That verse reads:
27 And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt were two persons. All the persons of the house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy.Genesis 46:27 NKJV
The number 70 is what is stated in the MT. You can see the source directly for yourself here.
But there is a problem with this. In the New Testament, Stephen said (and Luke wrote) the following:
14 After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all.Acts 7:14 NIV
What is interesting is that, when Stephen was speaking as recorded in Acts 7, he was “on trial” before the Jewish religious leaders because of his testimony about Jesus being the Messiah. If Stephen had gotten one single detail wrong regarding the Scriptures and Israel’s history, these men would have used that as “legitimate” grounds for their claims of blasphemy. Put differently, there is no way these men would have allowed Stephen to continue speaking if he got some details wrong.
So we have a discrepancy between what the New Testament and the Hebrew MT Old Testament says regarding how many Israelites went to Egypt from Jacob’s family.
But … we have another source to examine. What does the Septuagint say in Genesis 46:27?
27 The sons of Joseph born to him in the land of Egypt were nine. Thus all the souls of Jacob’s house who went to Egypt were seventy-five.Genesis 46:27 OSB
The LXX completely agrees with what the New Testament writer stated. This happens hundreds of times. Many of the differences between the MT and LXX are numeric. But many others are far more impactful verbiage differences.
This “seventy vs seventy-five” difference is not that meaningful on its own. It probably wouldn’t warrant a Principle on its own. But when we compound the evidence of the hundreds of differences, as one of the earliest discrepancies between the texts, it warrants noting at this point in the journey.
Before we conclude, let me offer you one other example of these discrepancies. This one is perhaps my favorite because the differences are so vast, it’s laughable (in a sad way).
In Hebrews 10, we read:
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,Hebrews 10:5-7 NIV
but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”
Here, the Hebrews writer quoted from Psalm 40:6-8.
Here is how the LXX reads from that psalm:
7 Sacrifice and offering You did not will;
But a body You prepared for me;
A whole burnt offering and a sin offering You did not require.”
8 Then I said, “Behold, I come
(it is written of me in the volume of the book);
9 I willed to do Your will, O my God,Psalm 39:7-9 [40:6-8] OSB
And Your law in the midst of my heart.”
But look at what the MT says here:
6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—Psalm 40:6-8 NIV
but my ears you have opened—
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.”
Psalm 40:6 is an entirely different message in the MT than the New Testament claims it reads.